Tribpedia: Texas Department Of Criminal Justice

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the state agency responsible for managing state prisons and jails and the oversight of more than 150,000 offenders. The agency also supervises offenders released from prison on parole.

The board is composed of nine members who are appointed by the governor to staggered, six-year terms. The governor also designates one member as ...

Ellis Urges Lawmakers to Act on Innocence Bills

Charles Chatman spent 27 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. DNA testing helped clear his name and a state court released him in 2008. On Tuesday, he and other former prisoners who have been exonerated joined state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, in urging House lawmakers to act quickly to pass bills that could help put an end to wrongful convictions. 

1980 Capital Case Returns; Defense Alleges Bias

Delma Banks Jr. has been on death row for 30 years. For the second time since the 1980 murder he was convicted of, lawyers in a Bowie County courtroom will argue over whether he should be executed for the crime. And the same prosecutors who suppressed evidence and covered up their errors during Banks' original trial will again argue that he should die for the killing of a 16-year-old boy. 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 5/2/11

Aaronson on the latest attack on Planned Parenthood, Aguilar previews the sanctuary cities debate, Grissom on a death row inmate's unsuccessful appeal, Hamilton on the UT System's faculty "productivity" data dump, Philpott on the prospect of lawsuits over education cuts, Ramsey on puppies and other distractions, Ramshaw on a tobacco fight, my interview with the presidents of UT-Austin and Texas A&M, M. Smith on a former State Board of Ed member who may have violated state ethics law, Stiles interactively displays the effects of House redistricting and Tan on the Senate budget end game: The best of our best content from May 2 to 6, 2011.

Execution Challenge Is First for Texas Appeals Office

Less than a month before his scheduled execution, Cary Kerr had no attorney. And the ones he had had up to that point, he argues, didn’t do him much good. Now, he’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution — scheduled for tonight — and allow him to again argue for his life. Brad Levenson, his new attorney, leads the Office of Capital Writs, created in 2009 to provide better representation for people on death row. 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr. 25, 2011

Aguilar and Weber on a subdued debate over homeland security, Galbraith on rising concern about natural gas drilling, Grissom on a controversial psychologist, Hamilton on the aftermath of the Rick O'Donnell episode, Philpott on the comptroller's apology, Ramshaw with more on the statewide database of child abusers, E. Smith interviews Lance Armstrong, M. Smith on what House budget cuts would mean for school districts, M. Stiles on how redistricting would change things for each House member, Tan on the Senate's wobbly attempts to approve a budget and my interview with David Dewhurst: The best of our best content from April 25 to 29, 2011.

State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.
State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.

House Tentatively OKs New Juvenile Justice Agency

Texas youths who get crossways with the law could soon find themselves under the supervision of a new state juvenile justice agency whose main mission is to keep young offenders close to home and quickly headed in a more positive direction.

Cameron Todd Willingham: A Timeline

Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004, convicted of igniting the 1991 blaze that destroyed his home and killed his three young daughters. The State Fire Marshal's office concluded the fire was arson. Since then several experts have questioned the evidence used to reach that conclusion. The Forensic Science Commission has been investigating the science used to convict Willingham for years and issued a draft report Thursday in advance of a public meeting. Click here for a timeline of the major events in the Willingham saga.

Guest Column: The Red-Headed Exception

The authorities in Hudspeth County have realized what the rest of us have known for years: Before you start investigating the funny smell emanating from his tour bus, remember that he's Willie Nelson. The usual rules don't apply.

This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.
This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.

Lawyers Allege Texas Illegally Obtains Death Drugs

Lawyers for two Texas death row inmates today asked state and federal law enforcement to investigate whether prison officials illegally obtained death penalty drugs the state used in nearly all of its 466 executions by using the Drug Enforcement Agency registration number of a long-closed facility.

Students at Austin Discovery School work on a project at the Texas charter school on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011.
Students at Austin Discovery School work on a project at the Texas charter school on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011.

Lawmakers Want Fewer Tickets for Students

Last year, Texas police issued 300,000 students for offenses like chewing gum, truancy, and cursing. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee today discussed a bill that would mean far fewer citations for youngsters in schools.

Texas Towns Suffer as Private Prisons Struggle

A few years ago, rural cities and counties in Texas were lining up to incarcerate inmates for profit in private prisons and jails. But today, as Mose Buchele of KUT News reports in partnership with NPR, an increasing number of cells sit empty, leaving many Texas communities struggling with mounting debts.

Jim Willett is the director of the Texas Prison Museum and was a warden at the Walls Unit who oversaw 89 executions by lethal injection. He sits in a replica cell within the museum.
Jim Willett is the director of the Texas Prison Museum and was a warden at the Walls Unit who oversaw 89 executions by lethal injection. He sits in a replica cell within the museum.

Looking Back on a Life as a Death House Warden

Jim Willett had not intended to spend the better part of his adult life working in Texas’ sprawling prison system. But the business student turned prison guard worked 30 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and oversaw 89 executions. Now, a decade into his retirement, he still spends his days surrounded by mementos of lives spent behind razor wire, steel bars and thick brick walls.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 3/21/11

M. Smith on the continuing controversy over Beaumont's school administrators, Tan on the deepening divide over the consequences of the House budget, Hamilton on the latest in the fight over higher ed accountability, Grissom on young inmates in adult prisons, Aguilar on the voter ID end game, Tan and Hasson's Rainy Day Fund infographic, Ramsey on the coming conflict over school district reserves, M. Smith and Aguilar on Laredo ISD's missing Social Security numbers, Galbraith on environmental regulators bracing for budget cuts and Ramshaw on greater scrutiny of neonatal intensive care units: The best of our best content from March 21 to 25, 2011.

Marc Mauer: The TT Interview

The national criminal justice expert on how other states have handled controversial prison closings and reduced criminal justice costs and how the Right On Crime Movement — with support from conservative leaders like Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich — might give Texas lawmakers the political freedom to be more than tough when it comes to crime.

Marc Mauer: The TT Interview

The Tribune sat down recently with national criminal justice expert Marc Mauer, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based reform advocacy group The Sentencing Project, to get his advice about how Texas can continue on its so-called 'right on crime' path even as lawmakers slice millions from the state budget. Mauer, who was in Austin for the Barbara Jordan Symposium at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs, talked about how other states have handled controversial prison closings, how others have reduced criminal justice costs and how the Right On Crime Movement — with support from conservative leaders like Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich — might give lawmakers the political freedom to be more than tough when it comes to crime.